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Tools to Speed Recovery

Recovery The regaining of something that has been lost or taken away – Websters dictionary

When athletes ramp up their training, in order to prepare for racing they should also ramp up their recovery habits to stay in balance. Over reaching is required to stimulate your body to adapt. Full recovery is required to allow that adaptation to take place. Partial or no recovery leads to partial adaptation, lack of performance gains and eventually over-training.

Training + Recovery = Super-compensation

Training + Inadequate Recovery = Performance reduction, Illness,
Injury, Burnout

The quicker and more complete your recovery from a workout, the faster you can move on to your next quality training session. The more total sessions you have the energy for, the faster you will ultimately be.

Top Secret Ergogenic = Full Recovery

No matter what you do, when you extend yourself, your body requires a specific amount of time to refuel and repair. Full recovery takes time. Quality training time is extremely valuable. By quality I mean when you are fully recovered and able to put in complete effort and focus. These sessions should be spent wisely.

Plan adequate rest into your weekly routine and have a  rest week every third or fourth week in your schedule. Manipulate volume and intensity during rest weeks to unload accumulated fatigue, maintain fitness and sharpen performance.

Recently, I did a big volume, three-day block of training. As an athlete, it was thrilling to put down some huge training. As a coach, I know it should take a week to recover and produce benefits from this type of training. The coach and athlete in my brain started arguing during the planned recovery period. After five days of recovery, my athlete side wanted to get back on it and ride a century with my buddies. My coach side told me, patience – allow for full recovery to reap full benefits from the training block.

Coach Lynda’s top ten list of tools to speed recovery

#1 Daily Nutrition Habits

Daily nutrition habits dictate the health status of your body. The health status of your body dictates how much training you can adapt to. What you eat and drink every day sets your athletic potential. If you eat poorly on a daily basis, your athletic potential ceiling will be low. You can wear yourself out with insufficient nutrition faster than by exercise without discipline. Maintaining daily optimal health through a nutritious diet will do more to speed your recovery from workouts than any other factor.

• Avoid daily calorie deficits which can lead to RED-S energy deficiency.

• Track your calorie intake to ensure you are imbibing sufficient total calories per day to replace what you burn. Don’t trust your appetite as fatigue can decrease appetite. A daily calorie deficit will leave you with low fuel stores, a weakened immune system and slow recovery. Even a small daily deficit added up over weeks and months can be debilitating and lead to injury and illness. Progressive glycogen depletion is the top cause of over-training.

• Track your protein intake to ensure you are consuming 0.64 – 0.73 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. FitDay and My Fitness Pal are useful tools to track calorie and nutrient intake on a daily basis.

• Maintain proper hydration status by drinking enough water to pee clear once a day. If you are peeing clear once an hour you are over-hydrating.

• Keep your prescriptions current.

• Take a multi-vitamin, iron and calcium only if recommended by your doctor.

• Supplementing your diet with antioxidants, such as vitamins D, E and C, may also help.


Coach Lynda

Coach Lynda Tip: I’ve seen more athletes blow themselves up and destroy peak performance by under-fueling daily in an attempt to becomes or stay at a very low percentage of body fat than from too much training volume and intensity. Fuel smart and monitor your daily calorie balance!

#2 Daily Sleep Habits 

Sleep is vital for recovery. Sleep time is when your body does its best repairing and rebuilding. Skimp on sleep and you will delay recovery. Through the course of a nights sleep, you cycle through several phases. During the slow-wave stage, growth hormone is released by the pituitary gland,  stimulating tissue repair.

• Get eight plus hours of sleep per night.

• Ingrain a routine. Go to bed and rise at the same time every day of the week, even at the weekends.

• Take a 45 minute nap in the afternoon if you have the time available.

#3 During Exercise Nutrition Habits

Fueling and hydrating properly during exercise will put you at the end of a session, in the best possible shape, needing the least total recovery. For easy workouts of less than an hour, water will suffice. For workout lasting longer than one hour you should consume a sport drink containing carbohydrates, electrolytes and possibly protein (if your GI system is receptive to this).

Hydration and electrolyte replacement Your body’s thirst drive depends on two things: an increase in blood salt concentration and a decrease in blood volume. Both of these things occur when you sweat. Research has shown your body will absorb and retain more fluid, when electrolytes such as sodium, are added to whatever you are drinking. Drinking plain water dilutes the sodium in your blood and shuts off your thirst mechanism. When your thirst mechanism is shut off, you drink less and tend not to hydrate fully.

Refueling  An athlete can burn over 900 calories per hour during exercise. However, research contends the maximum rate carbohydrate can be absorbed from the stomach and processed by the liver, is one gram per minute. This is a measly 240 calories per hour, so replacing every calorie burned is an impossible task. Focus on replenishing as much carbohydrate as your body can process. Consuming more than this will just leave you bloated.

Food choices  Exactly the right solid, semi-solid (gels) and liquid food combination to consume during exercise is highly personal. One athlete may thrive on bananas and Gatorade. This menu may send another athlete sprinting for the port-a-potty. This is an area in which you must use trial and error to figure out what works for you. It is vital to practice in training many times what you plan to consume in a race.

• During exercise, drink a sports drink containing at least 75 mg of sodium per eight ounces of fluid.

• During exercise, drink a sports drink containing a 6% carbohydrate solution. This concentration is absorbed into the body faster than plain water. A drink with higher than a 6% carbohydrate solution, will probably cause gastric distress.

• Aim to take in 8 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes. More if it is a hot day.

• Longer sessions may require you to add some semi-solids such as sport gels and/or some solid food such as a banana, rice cake or an energy bar.

#4 Post Exercise Nutrition Habits

The job of post exercise nutrition is to regain hydration status, replenish electrolytes lost, replace carbohydrate burned, bolster your immune system, provide protein for muscle repair and antioxidants to reduce cellular damage. Taking care of each of these details will speed your recovery.

During exercise your muscle cells take up glycogen at a higher rate than when at rest. At the end of an exercise bout, this effect lasts up to 30 minutes. Glut-4 molecules hang out on the muscle cell membrane and grab glucose from the blood. Glut-4 molecules are super-activated by high intracellular calcium and insulin levels produced during exercise. Refueling within 30 minutes of the end of an exercise bout enables you to take advantage of the Glut-4’s while they are still ramped-up. This will quickly replenish your muscle glycogen. If you miss this window it can take up to 48 hours to fully replenish your muscle glycogen fuel stores. Also, immediately consuming protein may reduce post exercise muscle breakdown.

• Immediately upon finishing an exercise bout, consume 0.5 grams of carbohydrate and 0.125 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Many commercial recovery drinks have the perfect combination of nutrients.

• Consume another 0.5 grams of carbohydrate and 0.125 grams of protein per pound of body weight, in frequent small amounts over the next two hours.

• Weigh yourself before and after exercise. Drink 24 ounces of fluid to replace every pound lost. Choose from water or a sports drink. Avoid sodas and alcohol.

• Consume the antioxidants vitamin C and E to reduce free radical damage.

• After training, consuming L-glutamine and the branched chain amino acids L-valine, L-leucine and L-isoleucine may decrease muscle breakdown, reduce central nervous system fatigue and speed recovery.

• Immune system function is depressed after a race or hard training session. Ensuring adequate carbohydrate fueling during and after heavy or prolonged exertion helps dampen immune inflammatory responses and counteract exercise induced immune dysfunction. Carb up to stay resilient.

  • Supplementation with quercetin (1,000 mg/day) reduces illness rates in exercise-stressed athletes. Combining quercetin supplementation with green tea extract and fish oil can further augment immune function and reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections in athletes. Lactobacillus probiotics can augment some aspects of immune function and reduce illness rates in exercise-stressed athletes.

#5 Remove Heat Stress

In hot climates, immediately after a race or workout, remove heat stress from your body.  Hose off your head, sit in a river or lake, pour ice-cold water over your back and down a cold drink. This will stop you from sweating halt the dehydration process and loss of electrolytes.

#6 Time Management

A day spent running all over town, doing a month worth of errands in a day, does not equal a recovery day. Poor time management can also eat into sleep hours. Identify time-wasting hours in your day. Do you watch TV? Spend hours surfing the internet? Activities like this can be relaxing but will slow your recovery if you sacrifice sleep for them.

#7 Stress Management

Chronic stress causes illness, injury and burnout. Obviously these are not good things for athletic performance. Identify what your sources of stress are and if possible eliminate them. Design a strategy to manage the stress source if elimination is not possible. Two options are to increase your coping skills and recruit emotional support.

#8 Pre-Exercise Nutrition

Ensure you begin a hard workout with your carbohydrate tanks full and you are fully hydrated. If you workout first thing in the morning, consume some low glycemic index carbohydrates with water to replenish stores after your overnight fast.

#9 Yoga

Stretching, relaxation and meditation all have been shown to speed recovery. Practice a method of yoga, such as Hatha yoga, which focuses on balance, flexibility and meditation.

#10 Massage and compression

Massage and compression speeds recovery by increasing circulation, flushing away waste products and bringing in fresh nutrients. It also feels so good, it promotes relaxation.

• Visit a certified massage therapist for a professional massage.

• Use a pair of compression legs such as Elevated Legs to self massage and enhance circulation.

• Use a foam roller or tennis ball to give yourself a massage daily.

Don’t save these ten recovery tools for your big days and races. Make them a part of your daily routine.

By Lynda Wallenfels Google+

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